World taking a shine to Tyrone gold mine riches: Investment fund chiefs visit firm as hopes raised of massive find
Some of the world's biggest investment funds have visited a potential goldmine in Co Tyrone, its owners said as they announced 19 new jobs.
Canadian firm Dalradian Resources said Curraghinalt near Gortin could yield hundreds of millions of pounds worth of gold, which could be used as jewellery or bullion.
Now it is seeking 19 employees from entry level positions to technical experts, geologists to a financial director and managing director.
The company controls the mineral rights to over 80,000 hectares in Northern Ireland including Curraghinalt which has been identified as one of the top 10 undeveloped gold deposits by grade in the world.
Chief executive Patrick Anderson said that the mine was "the best kept secret in Ireland" and said that the potential benefits for the local supply chain could be "huge".
He said that representatives of 70 investment funds had already visited the mine with a view to sharing in its spoils.
"Our studies in the last four years have identified the potential of 3.5 million ounces of gold in Tyrone and we haven't found the ends of our deposit yet.
"What we have found so far could make us the second largest gold producer in Europe."
Dalradian Resources has been working in the area since early 2010 and operates out of facilities in Omagh and Gortin, which already house just over 20 workers.
Invest NI has offered more than £326,000 of support for the jobs and associated training, which will generate almost £1m a year in salaries, making the average wage around £52,000.
The company has already invested more than £35m on advancing Curraghinalt and anticipates spending another £20m before starting mine construction. A preliminary assessment by the company showed potential for an underground mine producing 145,000 ounces of gold per year over 15 years with the potential to contract and employ approximately 300 workers.
Mr Anderson said that while not everyone from Northern Ireland would have the expertise to take on some of the roles on offer, priority will go to the best-qualified locals.
"I believe that some of the workers will have to be sourced elsewhere, but local people will get priority," he said.
"These jobs will be on global industry websites and we've taken this story to over 250 funds around the world, with 70 international funds already having visited Northern Ireland to see what we have here.
"Gold has been used as an investment device for centuries and we hope what we have here will be of interest around the world.
"There will also be opportunities in the supply chain, we've been actively engaging local contractors and will be making announcements soon about what will be available."
Mr Anderson said that the next step will be to start investigating underground development.
Last year Dalradian Resources was granted planning approval to extend an exploration project.
Metalworking and mining for copper and gold in Ireland dates to the Bronze Age, and artefacts of prehistoric Irish goldsmithing are exhibited in the national museum in Dublin. Gerard Boate was the first to record finding gold in the area of the Curraghinalt project, writing in his Natural History of Ireland in 1657 of nuggets found in the Moyola River.